Has the sound quality of Apple Music Spatial Audio improved?

The last time I compared Atmos music on a Pure Audio Blu-ray disc with the same content on a streaming service, first with Tidal and then when Apple Music came out with their spatial audio offering, streaming was so much worse that I just had to switch it off.

I recently decided to go back and do another comparison. Tidal still sounds terrible and did not have as many Atmos albums, but I was actually shocked by how much better immersive music sounds on Apple Music played through an Apple TV 4K in a home theater system with a 7.1.4 Atmos speaker layout (Trinnov AL32 AVR, Wisdom Line 2 speakers for all 7 horizontal channels). I compared Solacium and Stale Kleiberg Concertos from the Norwegian label 2L, Yello - Point, Konstantin Reymaier - The New Organ, and Booka Shade - Dear Future Self, and in each case I thought the Apple Music version sounded very, very good.

Someone told me recently that I should not be fooled simply by the difference in the audio bitrate between the “lossless” Dolby TrueHD codec used on Pure Audio Blu-ray discs and the lossy Dolby Digital Plus codec that streaming services use to conserve bandwidth. Apparently Dolby did some internal research a while ago that showed transparency with Atmos is achieved at 768kbps, which is the maximum bitrate for Dolby Digital Plus. I would not have believed this before, but now I am not so sure.

Is anyone aware of recent changes that Apple has made on their end to improve the spatial audio sound quality? Also, I would be interested in whether others are hearing the same thing that I am hearing.

…is probably the reference par excellence. I would be more interested to know if the complete catalog will sound like this when there are other sound engineers or just software at work.

I have zero expectation that the complete catalog will match the jaw-dropping immersive experience created with recordings from 2L or IAN Productions since these labels specialize in music that from the start is performed, recorded and mastered with a 3D playback environment in mind.

One can always live in hope though!!

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I had read in a German journal that there are very few really good sound engineers for this. Surely 2L employs the top people.

You have no shortage of such talent in Germany though. For example, Stefan Bock of Munich-based msm studios is a true pioneer in the field of immersive music. He worked early on with Morten Lindberg of 2L and was so impressed by what he heard that it prompted him to develop the Pure Audio Blu-ray format for delivering immersive music to consumers.

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For the sake of clarity, according to your post, you elected to stop focusing on the bit-rate and looking at numbers, instead using solely your ears, and you feel that your overall experience improved?

Incredible how that tends to happen! :rofl:

I jest, but, all the same, I would be astonished if your impressions are down to a server-side improvement on Apple’s end.

As always, more than happy to be proven wrong and learn from anyone who would be willing and able to discuss further.

Cheers! :tumbler_glass: